Former pro racer pushes to slow down illegal street racing in SoCal

On most given weekends, illegal street races can be found throughout Southern California. 

It's a problem law enforcement is struggling to control, especially during the pandemic when streets are empty and people are bored.

These street takeovers involve drivers doing burnouts, drag racing and performing dangerous stunts too close to spectators.

On Dec. 25, Daniel "Dano" Patten, a popular social media videographer, was recording an illegal street race in Carson. A few hours after uploading a video of the racers onto his social media platform, Patten was killed by a racer who lost control and slammed into him, authorities said. 

"That person didn’t have to die," said Aaron Schwartzbart. He’s a former Nascar driver and the founder of MotorGospel Ministries in Granada Hills.  

His organization helps young drivers with a need for speed to get off the streets and onto a track.

Motor Gospel Ministries has helped drivers like Angel Rodriguez, who was arrested for street racing in 2017.

Schwartzbart mentored Rodriguez, and he got a chance to legally race at the Irwindale drag strip competing against officers of the LAPD Street Racing Task Force.

Another participant, Hailey Nobles says, "It’s a place where you can do it legally without getting in trouble and without risking pedestrians' lives."

Many of the young drivers who get in trouble for street racing are often referred to Motor Gospel as part of their community service. 

"With greater than 23 motorsports venues spanning from San Diego to Bakersfield, there is no good excuse for people to die in illegal street races in Southern California," Schwartzbart said. 

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